This is a very lucrative line of business that serves clients from all walks of life. Though some can choose to target tourists, it is not the only niche available. People travelling might want places to sleepover at or people locked in marathon meetings or attending certain events might need places to sleepover. Lodges tend to be much sought-after because they are usually cheaper than bigger hotels. So if you are interested in starting a lodge business then this article is for you. The things you will learn herein will equip you with the knowledge to steer your course rightly as you start you own lodge business.
We talked a little bit about approaches in our introduction but let us discuss much further. One approach can be to build a lodge to serve an area full of tourist activities. This can be a huge opportunity if you manage to because the room rates tend to be high. However, getting space to build on or buildings to convert into lodges in such areas can be a tall order. This is because theywill most likely havelots of people vying to get a shot in such areas. Alternatively, you can identify an area, preferably in urban or peri-urban settings. This can also be lucrative since you will get a diverse array of people who will require your lodging services. It is very possible to have 100% room occupancy always without being in a tourist area. Niching approaches are quite frankly many and will depend largely on results of your market research. For instance, you can build a lodge meant to serve truckers meaning the lodge can be somewhere close to a busy highway. As to the decision on whether to build from scratch or remake an existing structure you will have to assess and you use your discretion. It is never cast in stone; at times it can be cheaper to build from scratch or at times it is not, so diligently assess your options. The approaches are numerous and vary depending on location, target market amongst other factors.
This is a crucial element in this line of business because if you do not do it thoroughly you will experience low room occupancies. So you must do market research so that you identify where there is a need and demand for a lodge. It is also important to study your prospective competition i.e. other players already doing that line of business. You will learn so many invaluable insights from how they structured their lodges, choice of location, target market, types of services offered, pricing regimes, marketing strategies and so on. It’s also essential that you have a lodge business plan.
Make Sure You Have A Comprehensive Lodge Business Plan
The failure to plan is the beginning of business failure. The lodge business plan must be clear and succinct enough to give your potential partners, clients and investors an overview of what your objectives are. At the same time, it must be detailed enough to explain the operations of the business that you propose. At the very minimum you need to have the following included in your lodge business plan:
- The mission, vision and operational strategy
- Market Analysis And Customer Segmentation
- A business case showing that the business is financial viable and sustainable
- A marketing and customer care plan
- An organizational chart and human resource policy
- A three-year expansion outlook
- A risk and rewards Analysis
Location And Premises
The choice of location will be a function of your market research. Preferably it must be a place that is easily reachable and is not too distant from prospective clients. A lodge might not necessarily have to be visible since some clients actually prefer privacy. It will just be important to ensure your marketing campaigns are good so that even if it is located remotely people can still know about it and find it. Another consideration to make when choosing a location is that the place must be serene – noise can be a huge turn-off for most people. It can also be convenient to locate somewhere that is not too far from basic amenities such as entertainment, shops, fuel stations and the like. The indoors must have a temperature regulation mechanism so that guests feel comfortable despite the weather – air conditioners will be needed for this. There must be room for spacious parking space for guests’ cars. Security measures must also be incorporated into the whole setup of the premises. The business property and that of the guests must always be secure at all times. Security fences, alarm systems and security personnel are central to ensuring security and safety.
We have already talked about the building aspect which is the primary issue before starting a lodge. Once that has been determined and sorted the next big thing becomes furnishing the lodge. There is a variety of furniture items that will be required for a lodge ranging from the administrative spaces, the actual rooms, kitchens and so on. Depending on your intended design you might also require outdoor furniture. There are gadgets that will also come in handy e.g. telephones, TV sets, fans amongst others. Toiletries and bedding will also form part of some of the key components guests will expect to find in order at your lodge. Some of the other equipment you might require will be informed by value-added services you can decide to offer to lure clients. For example, you might have kids playing area, braai spot, bar, pool and the like.
Staff And Management
Staffing and management requirements depend largely on the scale and type of services you will be offering. Some of the areas requiring personnel will be guest reception, housekeeping, catering, supervision, yard work, operations management and so on. It is important to find a way of streamlining your operations because a lodge business entails so many individual operations that must all be synched together. All your staff and management must be people who are totally sold out to the ethos of teamwork and unparalleled customer service. Those two attributes will make streamlining of operations easy and will culminate in enhanced value for the guests.
Bear in mind that a lodge business entails lots of maintenance operations and that means financial management is critically important. For marketing and visibility you must take advantage of the internet and social media. Having a sleek and well-designed website is non-negotiable nowadays especially for this type of business. Most people look up accommodation services online so if you are not there you will not be discovered. You must also leverage on online listings to get your lodge listed plus offer great service and encourage guests to give reviews online. Insurance cover is also important for incidentals.